Concrete home improvement – Fighting Spring Crumble

Now that the snow has finally melted away, we see what our front steps are looking like. Yikes! They’re crumbling away – even more than last year. The salt and shovelling really do a number on the cement over the winter. We’ve managed to do patchwork over the last few years, but this year may call for more drastic measures.

concrete home improvements on the front steps

In our case, it’s just the step up into the house that needs to be replaced (and obviously the stucco just above it). It doesn’t look like too big of a job, but it does involve some physical labour. Breaking up the old concrete step, building the form for the new step, and mixing and pouring the concrete. There is some metal labour as well, with the mathematical calculations. Here is what we plan to do.

  1. The dimension of the step needs to be calculated first. The dimensions consist of a riser (the vertical face) and the tread (the horizontal face). Since we are replacing an existing step, we can simply measure it before breaking it up. If we were replacing a series of steps from the ground up, we would need to include a foundation as well. Thankfully that is not part of this year’s job.
  2. The next part of the job is to build the form for the concrete. We have some scrap lumber to use for this. We need to cut the side forms according to our riser and tread calculations. We also need to make sure that our form is adhered to the side of the house. We don’t want any movement when we pour the concrete, so we will also brace the form with some wooden stakes along the outside. Finally, we make doubly sure that everything is plumb and level.
  3. Since we are only building one step, we won’t need to rent a portable cement mixer. Our wheelbarrow should do the job well enough. I think that we will also go for the ready-mixed cement that only requires adding water.
  4. Pouring the concrete is the fun part. We pour it slowly and evenly into the form to minimize bubbles. Then, we use a spade to remove any trapped air bubbles.
  5. We have a steel trowel that we will use to get the excess concrete off the tread. That way our step will have a smooth, even surface.
  6. Finally, we want to make sure that our step will be strong and last. We need to keep the concrete damp for up to a week while it cures, as well as spray the step with a curing compound. We are not planning to stain the step, so after the week of curing, our step is done. Tah dah!

Our front step is not a huge concrete home improvement job. If we had to redo the entire front entrance (steps and platform), we probably wouldn’t have the time or tools to tackle it ourselves. Fortunately, there are specialists out there who make the work look easy and can get it done in a day.

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